Poetry, Emotion and Editing

We often associate poetry with a more pure out pouring of the mind, or soul, than other forms of writing. For this reason, most who approach it tend to link the work emotionally with themselves.

The result can be an over weighing of comments, criticisms and reactions to the work, since the work is seen, not as it is–a piece of art–but rather the person themselves.

In this, it is often difficult to approach younger poets about there work, as I have found. Some will take any writing advice with the wrong heart.

One of my writer friends is fond of saying “we bleed on the page,” which I think is a good analogy.

We have to dig inside for these things, whether we are writing a poem about our past, a fictional character, drawing on forgotten fears–we dig, deep. That is only part of the creation.

The words on the page are now their own, they stand or fall now independent of the person. The poet needs to treat them, to honor them, as such. A poem about the last moments of your Grandmother’s life deserves the same editorial afflictions as one about a flower in a field. The personal matter–while important to the creation of the work–cannot be a roadblock to its maturation.

A first draft is owed a critical eye on diction, structure–an eye on the art, not the moment that birthed it.

So take that emotion and do what you will with it–bleed onto the page. But remember, when the blood dries, it is no different than any other ink. Take from it art that is full alive, that stands on its own right.

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